Lorenzo painter sends a message to nation's capitol

Published: Jul. 21, 2014 at 10:32 PM CDT
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Farm Strike by Merle Morrison
Farm Strike by Merle Morrison
Lorenzo Painter Merle Morrison
Lorenzo Painter Merle Morrison

LORENZO, TX (KCBD) - Painter Merle Morrison is a proud part of Lorenzo history. Her work commemorating the 1977 Farm Strike is now at the Smithsonian.

"When I saw something that I thought was interesting I did that - I painted it," Morrison said. "God gives those people extra pair of eyes so they can see certain things."

And one very special piece of Morrison's work has made it to the nation's capitol.

In a vacant field stood a tractor with a small sign reading "Farm Strike", a scene that Morrison found unique. So she did what she does best and took out her paint and brushes.

But, to farmers like Tommy Fondron, the tractor wasn't there by accident.

A depleted value on their crops threatened the livelihood of farmers on the south plains and the tractor represented a movement to get the hard working farmers the prices they deserve.

"It was our symbol, ya know. It was an attention getter. It's like putting a pretty girl out there," Tommy said.

In 1977 farmers from across the country drove their tractors all the way to Washington D.C. to confront White House officials.

"All it was, was trying to draw attention for higher prices for the products we sell." Tommy said.

Little did Merle know, that painting would go on to represent the movement at one of the largest museums in the world, the Smithsonian.

"I was not a part of that movement, nor was my husband who was a cotton farmer. But when I saw that scene I just though that was something I should do," Morrison said. "It's a rather easy thing for me to do.. I say it's always come natural for me."

Since 1957 Merle has called Lorenzo home and in those 57 years, she has painted the town.

"Every old house in the town, if it was interesting, i did it. I don't have any of them but a lot of people own my art."

But it takes a very special man to host the original painting that created waves at the national level.

That man is Tommy Fondron, who proudly hangs the picture inside his home.

It's a constant reminder of what can happen when a dream and hometown pride come together.

"No matter where you go. Nothing feels better than coming home."

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